Dynamic Stretching for Recreational Runners
Alright folks, the running season is coming up. With your local 10km charity runs, full or half marathons and recreational running clubs quickly approaching, it’s time to hit the pavement and lace up those running shoes! I am a strong believer in having both a pre and post exercise stretching routine. Stretching prepares the body for physical exertion and sports performance. There are two styles of stretching: Dynamic Stretching or Static Stretching.
Dynamic Stretching increases range of movement, blood and oxygen flow to soft tissues prior to exertion and has been proven to reduce the risk of injury.
Static Stretching used to be the standard style of stretch routine, but has shown little evidence of increasing flexibility and reducing injury when performed before a workout. Studies have actually shown that static stretching has a detrimental effect on explosive movements and strength output.
As a registered kinesiologist and experienced athletic trainer, here is a dynamic stretch routine which I regularly perform with my clients. (This routine is meant to be done after warming up with approximately 10 minutes of light cardio activity.)
Dynamic Stretches for Recreational Runners
(1) Knee Hug/Tip Toes: While walking forward, hug your right knee into your chest and rise onto the toes of your left leg. Continue to step forward, alternating legs. This stretch is an excellent way to loosen up your glutes and hips.
(2) Quad-Hip Flexor: Standing on your left leg, bend your right leg and hold your right foot behind you (with your toes pointing up). Bending forward at your waist, keeping both hips level to the ground, reach down with your left hand to touch the ground in front of your left toe. Take a step forward and repeat on the alternate side. This is an excellent movement for enhancing both hamstring and low back flexibility.
(3) Standing Pigeon: Stand on your right leg, with a slight knee bend. Bending your left leg with your knee pointed outward, grab your left foot with both hands and pull upwards until you feel the stretch in your glute. Take a step forward and repeat on the alternate side.
(4) Lunge with Trunk Rotation: Step forward with your left leg into a lunge position (ankles, knees, hips and shoulders facing forward and torso upright). While in the lunge position, rotate your torso by clasping your hands in a prayer position and placing your left elbow on the inside of your left knee. This movement stretches your hip flexors while in the lunge position, as well as strengthens and stretches your low back during trunk rotation.
(5) Axial ‘Tea-Pots’: Standing on your right foot, bend your left leg back and reach both arms overhead. Bend forward at the waist allowing your left leg to come up in order to touch your fingers to the ground. Keep both hips level to the ground, putting a slight knee bend on the right leg if necessary. This movement stretches your hamstrings.
(6) Hand Sweeps: With both arms by your sides, take a step forward with your left foot, landing heel-to-toe as you step. At the same time, bend forward at the waist, sweeping your arms down to the ground. Continue this motion, stepping with alternating legs. This is another great move for enhancing hamstring and quadriceps.
(7) Side Lunges with Oblique Stretch: Take a side step with your right leg, bending your right knee and keeping your left leg extended (side lunge). Straighten your right leg while you step your left leg across and in front of the right foot. At the same time, extend both arms overhead and lean to your right, feeling a stretch along the left side of your body. Take several steps with your right leg, then turn around and repeat with your left leg. This movement will stretch your adductors during lunge and target your obliques during side stretch.
(8) Heel and Toes: This calf stretch is nice and simple! Taking several steps each way, walk forward on your heels and then walk in the other direction on your toes.
After completing this dynamic stretch routine, you will be ready tackle any recreational or competitive activity.
Remember this as you start each day…..the biggest hurdle to beginning any activity is tying up your laces. Stay active and have fun!
By Kinesiologist Cameron Quon